I've been struggling with how to categorize people who are merely called "shahids" in Hamas al-Qassam Brigades message boards and websites; whether they are likely to be militants or not.
At this time, I am going to assume they are. Here are my reasons:
1) There are no women or young children being referred to in those websites as "shahids", even though they are routinely referred to as such in Arabic newspaper reports. This indicates that the word, in the context of these sites, refers exclusively to adult males, and given that these sites celebrate "resistance," it indicates strongly that the term is referring to those who are worthy of emulation.
2) We have identified 9 plain "shahids" who we had already shown to be members of terror groups.
The main counterargument is that these names were often posted by regular readers of the site who could not be expected to use consistent labels. It is possible that some of them would assume that every policeman was an al-Qassam member (not an unreasonable assumption, given our findings.)
So I will add the five new names of plain shahids we have identified so far, and keep a record of my thinking on the blog so my decisions are as transparent as possible if anyone wants to verify these findings.